It is rare for a comic book series to masterfully uphold the comic book medium whilst providing a literary sensibility — most artists find themselves performing a trade-off. Not so for Black Stars Above. It’s been years in my reading experience (this includes: poetry, books, articles, memes, and a Chinese restaurant fortune cookie) since I have been this fascinated with individual issues, while being completely annoyed by the fact that I have to wait to read more! For real though, this series is definitely deserving of an Eisner, and beyond that, a Booker prize. In earnest, this book has always done an excellent job of melding aesthetics with its ideology.
Lonnie Nadler is clearly a master of his pen and knows how to bring the reader throughout this process. Each issue has been a successive exploration into weird fiction. Each piece of prose throughout the issue continually offers a glimmer into a dark chasm that Nadler serenely brings you closer and closer towards, until you can’t remember where you came from. He constantly explores the human psyche in how paranoia and isolation affect our minds.
One of the best breakouts in a long time, Jenna Cha goes all out WEIRD within this series. Her ability to visualize the surreal in such etched figures that it feels as though she has simply dusted off a historical piece of art is incredible. Her art manages to feel familiar but always holds our gaze for us to realize the oddity that we’ve witnessed.
This artwork paired with Brad Simpson’s wondrous colors makes everything bathed in a texture wholly its own. Each panel is its own mural, artistically executed in a way that makes it feel as though these are simply pulled from an art exhibition.
The person who’s managed to thread everyone together into a cohesive pattern has been Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, whose dynamic lettering creates a beautiful telescope to view Black Stars Above. Hassan’s wonderfully rendered sense of lettering helps maintain the period piece feel of this work.
This entire book has managed to continually up the ante with how it can enthrall its audience. It’s some of the most prestige issues on shelves today, and each is better than the last.